IMAGE: Eliza Sohn
The parking lot in front of NEPO 42 (5403 NE 42nd Ave., 288-8080), a newish joint around the corner from a pair of rival taquerias on Northeast Killingsworth Street, has four spaces, but don’t try to use them. One is occupied by the enormous smoker that fuels the kitchen, one is disabled-only and the other two are a difficult squeeze. Park around the corner on the unpaved side street, hoof it through a puddle and get ready to be happily surprised. I expected Matthew and Sara Firosz’s bar to be a slightly remodeled neighborhood dive, but the pleasant space, decorated with art nouveau posters and black-and-white photos and with the remains of aged ceramic tiles on the floor, possesses rough, unpretentious elegance. It also has everything you could want from a neighborhood pub: a long bar, plenty of booths, a massive flat-screen TV (tuned to CNN until a patron begged for anything more sporting than the day’s stock-market losses), a pretty bartender and great draft taps. There’s an isolated pool table, occasional Wii tournaments and really, really good food: juicy smoked hot wings, a good-looking $7 burger ($5 at happy hour) and deep turkey pot pies. The wings, normally $10 for a baker’s dozen, are 25 cents apiece during Blazers games.